BUFFALO, N.Y. (AP) Goalie Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen and the Buffalo Sabres finally enjoyed the benefits of playing with a lead.

Jordan Greenway scored twice in an outing the Sabres led 3-0 after the first period, and Luukkonen stopped 33 shots for his fourth career shutout and fourth this season in a 7-0 rout of the Los Angeles Kings on Tuesday night.

“I try to keep a level head. But I think when we’re (leading) it’s easier,” Luukkonen said in becoming Buffalo’s first goalie with four shutouts in one year since Ryan Miller's six in 2011-12. “You can look at the stats and it’s a huge thing in a game, who gets the first goal. So I think that was one of the more important things today.”

The slow-starting Sabres flipped their script by scoring the opening goal for the first time in eight outings, and holding a lead after 20 minutes for the first time in 11.

Rasmus Dahlin, JJ Peterka and Alex Tuch had a goal and assist apiece, and Kyle Okposo and Zach Benson also scored.

The Kings were flat and sloppy through an outing in which they provided little support for goalie David Rittich, who finished with 12 saves through two periods. He was replaced by Cam Talbot, who allowed two goals on seven shots.

Coming off a 4-0 win over Edmonton in interim coach Jim Hiller’s debut on Saturday, Los Angeles fell back into the inconsistencies that led to the team firing Todd McLellan. Los Angeles dropped to 4-9-6 in its past 19.

“I talked about the other night, the guys had fun. It was a fun night. No fun today. No fun,” Hiller said. “Our identity is defense and D-zone coverage. That was nowhere near our identity tonight.”

The seven goals against were a season high for the Kings who entered the day having allowed 127 goals, the second-fewest in the NHL.

Peterka opened the scoring 4:25 in when his initial shot from the slot was stopped by Rittich, but the puck leaked out behind the goalie. Peterka circled the net and swept in his own rebound.

Greenway scored 12 minutes later by intercepting Drew Doughty’s ill-advised pass through the middle of his own zone. Okposo scored a power-play goal by deflecting in Dylan Cozens’ shot with 35 seconds left in the first.

Luukkonen’s best stop came during a Kings power-play chance with 4 minutes left in the second period, when he lunged to his left to stop Adrian Kempe’s one-timer from the right circle.

The Sabres rediscovered their offense after combining for two goals in losing their past two. Buffalo’s inconsistencies have been apparent in going 9-7 in their past 16 games and a season in which they’ve yet to win three straight.

“Yeah, it can be frustrating, but we got to start somewhere,” Greenway said. “We got to be happy, be excited, be confident about what we did tonight and just expect this out of ourselves day in and day out. If we stick to that game plan, we can string a lot of wins together.”


Kings: Continue four-game road trip at the New Jersey Devils on Thursday night.

Sabres: Close a four-game homestand against the Florida Panthers on Thursday night.


AP NHL: https://apnews.com/hub/nhl

Copyright 2024 STATS LLC and Associated Press. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS LLC and Associated Press is strictly prohibited.